[Ip-health] Study demonstrates prices of cancer medicines could be significantly reduced

Melissa Barber melissajoybarber at gmail.com
Mon Jan 30 06:20:16 PST 2017

Study demonstrates prices of cancer medicines could be significantly

See full poster at:

Generic production of cancer medicines could result in prices 90% below
those seen currently in Spain, the UK, and the US, a study presented at the
annual European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam has shown.

Researchers analysed the costs of manufacturing medicines in India,
including costs of building and running a production plant, and the current
market costs of raw drug. Generic prices calculated by the researchers for
cancer medicines that are available as tablets were on average 85% lower
than current prices for the same medicines in the UK, 89% lower than prices
in Spain, and 86% below prices that the US Department of Veterans Affairs
pays. Drugs included in the analysis were cancer medicines on the World
Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List.

For many drugs, generic prices in India were similar to those predicted by
the researchers based on cost of production. In these cases, the
researchers argue, the competitive Indian generics market has successfully
reduced markups. At the same time, the costs of these drugs in Spain, the
UK, and the US were often 10-fold greater. For example, imatinib, a drug
for leukaemia that became generic in the UK last year, costs 22 cents per
tablet in India, but $58 per tablet in Spain, $84 per tablet in the UK, and
$248 per tablet in the US.

However, in some cases prices in India were also significantly greater than
costs of production. For example, the raw drug cost for irinotecan, a drug
for colon cancer, was calculated as $2.13 per dose. At the same time, the
cost per dose in India is $113, in Spain $38, in the UK $782, and in the US

While global spending on oncology drugs stands at around $100 billion per
year, many commonly used cancer treatments are now generic. “Most cases of
cancer happen in low- and middle-income countries, but access to treatment
is often very limited – monthly drug prices regularly exceed incomes. Our
analysis suggests that cancer treatment using generic medicines is
financially feasible, at a large scale, in poor countries,” said Melissa J
Barber, who authored the study.

*Manon Ress*, Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT) said:

"As a cancer patient in active treatment since 2010 with some of the drugs
highlighted in the studies, I have seen how the cost of treatment now often
exceeds personal income for many people in many countries including the
US.  And the price of cancer is not only unnecessary human suffering and
premature mortality, it is also the price of huge losses of economic
resources for our countries.

The population is aging and cancer has often become a chronic disease that
can be kept under control for many years.  Worldwide 8.2 Million people
each year die of cancer and the number of new cases is expected to increase
by about 70% over the next 20 years.

The Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT)'s fundamental concern is
that the ever increasing cost to access to treatment has already a dramatic
impact on national health and treatment programs as well as on patients and
their families.  UACT is focusing on the delinkage of the price of the
medicines from the funding of research and development and we believe
generic prices, as demonstrated in the Studies, are part of the solution.

We can and we must do better to provide access to essential and affordable
life- saving treatment to all cancer patients who need it today. "

*Diarmaid McDonald* from Just Treatment, a UK group focused on access to
medicines on the NHS said:

"These findings show that we're paying way over the odds for cancer
medicine in the UK at a time of unprecedented pressure on the NHS budget.
Indeed, the NHS is often unable to afford the sky-high prices
pharmaceutical corporations are charging so patients miss out on vital,
life-saving treatment.

Drug companies will claim that their high prices are needed to pay for the
development of new medicines, but this approach to funding innovation comes
at the cost of millions of premature deaths around the world every year.
There are better ways to pay for medical R&D - we should start implementing
them now."

*Nkhensani Mavasa*, Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said:

"Even in a country like South Africa, most cancer medicines remain
unaffordable, behind the barrier of multiple patents. It means the
government lacks the finances to procure them in the public sector, and
private medical schemes don’t offer them in their minimum benefits. Women
in South Africa continue to pay with their lives.  You can just ask Tobeka
Daki who has been leading our campaign for cancer medicines. Or rather
don’t. She died last year after her cancer metastasized as she wasn’t able
to afford trastuzumab - a medicine that could have significantly improved
her chances of survival. Despite being aware of the case, Roche failed to
drop the price to allow for her to access it. Roche’s inhumanity is on
display for all the world to see."


*James Love*, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) said:

"​The study by Barber and Hill illustrates the opportunities to obtain
affordable medicines for cancer when products are off patent, but also
exposes some inefficient procurement practices in Europe and the United
States.  For example, ​t​he US price for ​capecitabine is 37 times more
expensive to the US Department of Veterans Affairs than the achievable
target price.  The authors make a compelling case that governments in
Europe, the United States and elsewhere are not making an effort to cut
costs on off-patent cancer drugs."

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